Costume Quest Review

   26/10/2010 at 21:07       Chris OToole       6 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - Costume Quest, Double Fine, Brutal Legend, Psychonauts, Tim Schafer

Costume Quest is a downloadable game for PSN and XBLA and while it'll set you back around a tenner, it's definitely more treat than trick.

Originally conceived during a break in production when Double Fine's previous game 'Brutal Legend' hit some production difficulties, Costume Quest is a breath of  fresh air that carries the minty whiff of heart warming nostalgia.

The story begins on Halloween night and you are asked to choose one from squabbling twins Wren and Reynold to be your main protagonist. Your choice of sibling will then begin the game wearing a robot costume made of boxes and sticky tape, whereas the remaining sibling will be left dressed as a piece of candy corn. This proves to be quite the catastrophe too as the second house you call to in an effort to feed your candy addiction, is being looted by sweet-toothed monsters. Mistaking the candy corn costume for a massive piece of the real thing, the monster tucks it under his arm and scuttles off into the night. Time to step up to the plate, your Costume Quest has begun.

The first thing that strook me about Costume Quest was how gorgeous it looks. From the character design to the backgrounds, everything just looks perfect. It's a bit like how you'd imagine the Charlie Brown universe to be if they had a big budget CGI machine. Mind you, that the game looks this good shouldn't come as any surprise when you realise that the project lead, Tasha Harris, is an ex Pixar artist, and she's done an absolutely sterling job here.

Gameplay wise the game brings back fond memories of old-style turn-based RPG Nintendo games like the Mother series, or the earlier Final Fantasy titles. When you trick or treat a house, you're often rewarded with a bag full of candy, which you can save up to spend on battle stamps. Lick these and stick them to your costume to be granted various abilities in combat such as extra health, counter attacks and even the ability to scare away your foes. Only one of these can be attached to each character at any one time though. If you aren't lucky enough to find a candy-bearing parent however, you'll find a monster ransacking the house for sweets and it's at this point that the combat begins.

This also happens to be the point during the game at which I constantly broke out into teeth-baring grins. The cheap-looking home-made costumes you and your friends are wearing magically transform into their real-life counterparts. And what magical transformation they are! You'll really want to unlock all eleven just so you can check out the brilliant battle animations and special moves for each one.

The combat is turn based, but requires you to perform a small action to get the full benefit of each attack. These actions vary from a waggle of the stick, to a deftly timed button press. After two normal attacks you'll have filled the meter enough to use your costume's unique ability. The Robot has a spread missile barrage whereas The Statue of Liberty restores health to each of your team. It's also jaw-droppingly brilliant to watch.

There are three large distinguished and resplendent hub areas in the game, with each one giving you a selection of missions to complete and hidden objects to find, You'll even find cheeky nods and winks to other Double Fine games such as Psychonauts and Brutal Legend.

At about six to seven hours in length Costume Quest is the perfect game to get you in the Halloween spirit. I couldn't put it down until I'd collected everything and unlocked every achievement, it really is that good. It does have some minor faults however. Occasionally the text will move too quickly to read, the main font is slightly too small, and towards the end of the game a bit more variation in the enemies would have been nice. Overall though, Costume Quest is everything I hoped it would be, a charming RPG romp through a wonderfully realised world.

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